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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 10/07/2020

Following on from Event Industry Forums that were conducted throughout April and May, the fragility of the events supply chain was identified as one of the key shared concerns across the sector.  In response to this, VisitScotland Events Directorate asked businesses working closely with the events sector to complete an online survey (live from 16-22 June) which requested feedback on the impact of Covid-19 on their business.

Today (10 July) we have published the key findings from the survey which generated 315 responses from a wide range of businesses and organisations.  

The survey underlined the breadth of organisations involved in the events supply chain with event organisers, production services and AV & technology companies providing the largest representation.  The vast majority (96%) of respondents were from micro or small sized businesses and most rely significantly on the support of freelancers, 69% of respondents are self-employed, either as a sole trader or via a Ltd Company, and 89% indicated that their head office is based in Scotland. Many of these suppliers provide specialist skills that, once lost, are not easy to replace.

Over-arching summary findings highlighted:

  • 57% of respondents are 100% reliant on the events sector for their business turnover, a further 26% are 61-99% reliant​
  • 27% have lost over a quarter of a million pounds in revenue to date, with 11% of those losing over £1m.  Average revenue loss is almost £650K
  • 43% of respondents have stated that they can remain trading between 1 and 6 months, and 25% are unsure of how long they can remain in business. 4% have already ceased trading​
  • 21% have not been eligible or have been unable to access any support funding​
  • 55% of respondents have staff furloughed. 93% of those that have accessed the furlough scheme indicate that extending it beyond October would have a helpful/essential impact on their ability to operate​
  • 69% of respondents are self-employed, either as a sole trader or via a Ltd Company
  • There is a significant reliance on freelance staff, particularly amongst small and micro businesses (the majority of respondents)​
  • ​The vast majority (96%) of respondents are from micro or small sized businesses. 44% have 2 or less FTE staff. ​
  • 9% have already made or foresee making redundancies with 16% of respondents expecting to making redundancies before Oct. 26% expect to make more redundancies post Oct if furlough is not extended​
  • 44% of respondents state that their income will not exceed expenditure until physical distancing restrictions are lifted​
  • 34% have been able to diversify their product or client base, into areas including digital events and Covid-19 protection measures

In addition, verbatim feedback also emphasised a range of over-arching challenges including concerns around the loss of skilled workforce and how this would impact on the future of the sector; mass gathering and physical distancing bringing financial challenges; seasonality and the dependency for many businesses on summer and outdoor event seasons and the need for a clearly defined restart plan for the events sector.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who took part in our recent supply chain consultation. From staging to security, marketing to marquees, and event organisers to venues - it was crucial that we gathered intelligence from businesses who are part of the events and festivals sector supply chain in order to help inform recovery plans.

The findings underline that the events supply chain is made up of a vast range of businesses which do no not operate in isolation – there are many interdependencies across the sector all relying on a supply of goods, services and specialist skills provided by the wider economy. It also emphasises the critical support required by all aspects of the supply chain but in particular freelancers, the self-employed and small businesses, in order to remain trading in the future. Many of those that supply the events sector provide specialist skills that, once lost, are not easy to replace.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events

The feedback from the questionnaire has been shared with the Events Industry Advisory Group and with the Scottish Government to further inform sustainable recovery for our important industry.